Mbappe misses penalty as Euros favourites knocked out in huge upset


uro 2020 was blown wide open as favourites France were undone and dumped out by the baffling, brilliant fight of Switzerland which saw them earn a penalty shootout win and passage through to the last eight.

This evening in Bucharest served to highlight the folly of anointing favourites. France had already won this tournament in the mind of so many – including this writer – by a distance before a ball was kicked, only to be consumed by the beautiful brilliance of tournament football.

Whether their implosion was anxiety or arrogance it was hard to tell, but it was spectacular viewing nonetheless and will have other top nations sat wide-eyed as they look down the line to Wembley. A route clear of France after their exit was sealed by the star most hopes were pinned upon, Kylian Mbappe.

The forward was scaring the Swiss early on with driving runs down the left, but they held out to deliver a startle of their own.

Steven Zuber collected the ball on the left from Haris Seferovic, ran at Benjamin Pavard and lifted an inviting ball into the centre of the France box. Despite Les Bleus’ three central defenders, Seferovic nudged a sloppy Clement Lenglet out of his way and steered a wonderful header into the bottom corner.

Deschamps’s reshuffled side, starting with a back three, looked ruffled and were playing within themselves.

The shape had shackled the favourites, but their attitude was miles off, too. Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, undefeated starting together for France, were giving Granit Xhaka and his compatriots the run of midfield.

Deschamps discarded the back three and Lenglet for a four and Kingsley Coman at the break but still the same pattern continued.

Again it was Zuber vs Pavard and, again, Zuber came out on top – with a helping hand from VAR. The Swiss wing-back charged his French counterpart and was hacked down. Appeals were initially waved away before the VAR review brought a penalty, though the night was turned as Hugo Lloris dived to save from Ricardo Rodriguez’s tame effort.

Within a minute, Karim Benzema made it click with the most audacious and brilliant touch to bring France to life.

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